Dinosaur Ice Excavation

The kids have finally  broken up for their Summer holidays (hooray) and though we have lots of “little things” planned, we also have a lot of time to spend at home (and so it should be, I think kids these days DESPERATELY need some down time and time to GET BORED!!!). Every so often we like to jazz things up a little.. last week, we had a go at Water Balloon Pinata.. this week, we are having fun with some ICE – the kids are doing their very own DINO ICE EXCAVATION.Cool down with some fun Dino Ice ExcavationThis is SUCH an easy activity to set up and the kids will get lots of fun out of it. All you need is a tupper ware, some plastic toys (we got some small plastic dinosaurs), popped them in some water and put it in the freezer overnight.Cool down with some fun Dino Ice Excavation - Summer Fun for KidsThe next day the kids attacked it with a stone and released the dinosaurs from their Ice Age prison.

This activity has SO MANY learning opportunities –

1) Learn all about different dinosaur names

2) Discuss the ice age and what happened all those years ago

3) Practice counting and adding, as you “release” the dinosaurs

4) Practce colour recognition

5) strengthen fine motor skills

So.. what are you waiting for? What is not to love……

What how much fun my daughter had with this activity!

Fun with Ice - discover the ice age with the kids with this simple activity full of learning opportunities - DINO Ice Exploration

Calling all Class Reps

Classlist.com – A new tool for Class Reps, PTAs and parents: “Easier than email, better than Facebook, different to the parent portal”

pta reps

“It was mortifying! The newest boy in the class was the only one not invited to a birthday party, because the mother arranging the party had used an out-of-date classlist. The poor boy thought he had been left out deliberately. Now that we use Classlist.com new families are included on the classlists as soon as they register their details.” says Nicky, a Class Rep in Oxford. “As Class Rep I can send messages confident that they will reach the whole class, without checking that I’ve included new people, or cutting and pasting email addresses”, Nicky added.
Classlist.com’s founders are two mothers, both of whose children have moved school several times both in the UK and abroad, as they have moved around. “Getting to know other children and parents, arranging pick-ups and play dates, and understanding the school calendar has been a very hit and miss affair. Sometimes there would be a super-organised class rep with an excel or word document where we could add our details to a classlist. Sometimes there wasn’t, or the list was wrong or out of date, or we lost it. And then next year, the same again… for three children each. ”says Co-founder, Susan Burton.
“I have been both a Class Rep and PTA Committee Member, and you can waste a lot of time trying to communicate with people, whether it is to ask for help with fundraising, to tell them about a coffee or ask about homework. We felt there must be a better way to connect with other parents”, says Susan’s Co-Founder, Clare Wright.
Classlist is an Oxford based service, enabling PTAs, Class Reps and parents at their school to communicate easily using up-to-date contact details, to create interest-based communities, and to organize events. Parents register, share and update whatever details they feel comfortable with, and can transfer their profile easily to other classes as their kids move on.

class rep
Members have fully authenticated access to a private and secure site with a set of tools all aimed at making life easier. The site is mobile responsive, for usage on-the-go, and has been operational for over a year in schools in the UK and Australia. Classlist.com is Data Protection Registered, and personal details are never shared with advertisers or anyone else.
PTAs also find Classlist.com enormously useful when making use of the newsletter tool, which automatically uses the the latest classlists to communicate with all parents. “We just had no way of sending a message to all parents ourselves before”, says one PTA Chairman. Classlist also makes it easier for the PTA to raise money, enabling you to manage paid events and collect money from parents. The site can be a valuable source of fundraising for the PTA, which benefits from revenue from ads on the school’s site.
Parents and schools are now signing up to Classlist’s new Schoolrun share service available for the new school year September 2015. This will enable parents to use a tool on Classlist to find other families at the same school who live near them and want to share the school run.

class lists and reps

The schoolrun share service is an extension of the classlist and social network service to parents and schools. “Parents using classlist.com have been verified to join their school’s Classlist community, which is exclusive to parents at their school. They already participate in class and year group discussions and attend social events, such as coffee mornings that have been arranged on our platform. Offering ‘schoolrun’ sharing to parents within this trusted community makes sense, whether it be organising bike buddies, bus buddies, walking trains or sharing the driving”” explains Susan Burton.
“We have achieved our aim of ‘Parent Life Easier, School Communities stronger’ by helping people connect, whether it be for a school fundraising event, a party, playdate, or lift home. Classlist has been described by a parent as ‘Easier than email, better than Facebook, different to the parent portal”, says Clare Wright.

Classlist is set to take more schools by storm this September. Get your school’s private web app set up now!


Days Out in London with Kids

If you are in London this Summer (2015) and are looking for things to do with the kids, you are IN FOR A TREAT!

Each year the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park hosts an exhibition, as well as a fabulous architectural structure. They choose an architect that does NOT already have a building design in London to come up with a design and build. This year they have a Spanish couple called Selgas Cano and they have come up with this most awe inspiring design. It is simply BEAUTIFUL!

Plan in enough time to sit down for a nice drink and cake (unless it is a hot day, then take a picnic and sit under a tree in the shade).

I took the kids along (nearest tube via High Street Kensington, but if you have time, enter the park via any gate and go for a walk in this lovely green space).

Serpentine Pavilion by Selgas Cano in Hyde Park - Serpentine Gallery 2015And here is a video with us walking around and through the Serpentine Pavilion 2015

Save the Stag Beetle

Today, we were lucky enough to find a female Stag Beetle in our garden! Living in a very Urban environment, with a small, nature unfriendly garden, this was a very exciting discovery for us. The kids at first thought it was a Stink Beetle, which do have some similarities, but generally are much much smaller. So it was great for us to look at it and discuss.. as well as discuss that the Stag Beetle is endangered here in the UK and that we must do everything to protect it. (See our video below, too cute!).

Female Stag Beetle - exploring nature and wildlife with kids

Mike Strick recently posted THIS on Facebook and I shared it with my children and my friends (please visit this link and share with your friends and family):

Every year in early summer, the stag beetles emerge to find mates. They have spent the first five to seven years of their life underground as larvae and now have just a few short weeks to live as adults.

Every year I’m shocked by how many people fail to recognise these icons of British wildlife, and am saddened by how many beetles end their lives crushed underfoot. Stag beetles have been around virtually unchanged for millions of years, and are not equipped to survive in an urban environment. Their numbers have declined drastically over the past few decades and the species is seriously endangered.

If you see one on a pavement, please move it out of harm’s way. Despite being large (the male can be up to three inches long), they are placid and harmless provided you don’t stick a finger between the male’s large ‘antlers’, which can inflict quite a strong pinch. Pick them up gently with finger and thumb on either side of the thorax (the middle part of the body, behind the head) and move them into a garden or similar.

Please keep an eye open for them. In flight in the early evening they are phenomenal, flying in an upright and rather ungainly style, making a noise like a small fighter plane. They tend to make a pretty uncontrolled landing, often ending up on pavements, which is where you’re most likely to see them and where they need your help to get to safety. The recent high winds are probably giving them trouble, meaning that they could end up in particularly tricky situations.

If you have children, it would be a big help if you could make sure they know about stag beetles too. Kids probably come across them more frequently than their parents. If they know what they are and what to do, the beetles are more likely to survive the encounter!

These are spectacular animals. We really have nothing else like them. It would be a shame if we lost them forever.

And then… we were lucky enough to discover……

She is a Tom Boy, He is a Sissy. Why is that ok?!

Sissy vs tom boy - why is it ok for a girl to like boy things, but not ok for a boy to like girl things

Boy Girl Twins via Deposit Photo

The Tom Boy

We have a little girl in our school that LOVES to climb trees, chase the boys and play pirates. Everyone says how fun she is, what a great little Tom Boy. They indulge in her love for Spiderman and her want of cars.

The Sissy

We also have a little boy at our school who LOVES to dress up as Elsa, adores his baby doll and loves playing with the girls. He doesn’t like fighting the boys much. The other boys call him a sissy. They tell him he can’t use the boys’ toilets as he is a GIRL.

I ask you, why is that social acceptable behavior? Why is it ok (if not grand) for a girl to act in (supposedly) boy ish ways – to love trucks, and mud and fights? To prefer pirates over princesses and mermaids? Why is it NOT ok for a boy, to act in a girl ish way?

Where did these 4yrs old boys get the notion that it is wrong for another 4yrs old boy to have other interests? How does a 4 year old boy even know that “other boys” don’t dress up or play with dolls or have tea parties? How does a 4 year old boy even notice this difference, and worse still act on it in a negative way?

It appears that we live in a society, though outwardly equal, in that it is ok for a GIRL TO ASPIRE TO BE A MAN, but it is NOT OK for a BOY TO ASPIRE TO BE A GIRL. Why is our society still implying that the male gender is something better? Why do boys have to stay boys? And why is a kind, caring and nurturing boy not something to aspire to?

Who says that “girl ish things” are for girls only? Don’t father’s change the baby’s nappies these days? Don’t fathers help their children get dressed? Don’t fathers also go and do the shopping and cook the family meals? In my house they do. And in many of my friends’ houses they do.

I am saddened and dismayed about this.. and it is something that I hope to teach my children differently. We can all do anything we want. We can all do supposedly boy ish things and we can all do supposedly girl ish things. There is no “one activity” for one gender and another for another. They both enjoy both equally.

Yes,  there is a gender division as a rule.. Boys GENERALLY prefer cars and girls GENERALLY prefer dolls. But the thing to remember, is that when on or the other wants to do something that is GENERALLY speaking different, we let them and support them and accept the fact that we are different.

We live in a modern, tolerant society. My children’s school is brilliant at supporting different cultures, skin tones and social backgrounds. They are great at teaching understanding of disabilities. I really hope that they are able to embrace this difference too.

This boy in our school –

He is a child.

A child who is kind.

A child who is curious.

A child that likes to play.

A child that likes to imagine.

A child that likes to have fun.

A child that likes to learn.

He is a well behaved child.

He is a gorgeous child.

A child that eats and sleeps like every other child.

He is a child growing up.

Don’t take his childhood away, by making him feel bad about being (just a little bit) different.

Different is good. Different should be supported. Different is what makes the world exciting, unique and a wonderful place.